Department of Transportation Updates

Department of Transportation Updates

New Updates Since Last Newsletter

U.S. Department of Transportation Takes Action to Ensure Equitable Driver License Office Access for Alabama Residents

December 28, 2016- After a year-long investigation, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has reached an agreement with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) to ensure that driver licensing services in the state will be available to all residents, regardless of race, color, or national origin, in compliance with Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. To view the press release, please click here.

Fall 2016 Newsletter

Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Transportation Issue Guidance on Title VI Protections in Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery:

On August 16, the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation issued joint agency guidance, Guidance to State and Local Governments and Other Federally Assisted Recipients Engaged in Emergency Preparedness, Response, Mitigation, and Recovery Activities on Compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (go.usa.gov/xkGW5) (en Español - go.usa.gov/xkGZ3, Tiếng Việt - go.usa.gov/xkGZw, Kreyòl Ayisyen - go.usa.gov/xkGZS), to recipients of federal financial assistance on the nondiscrimination protections of Title VI in emergency and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

 

The guidance provides an overview of the application of Title VI in emergency and disaster management and examples of promising practices that recipients of federal financial assistance can take now, in advance of emergencies and disasters, to ensure Title VI compliance. Notably, the guidance emphasizes that Title VI obligations and protections cannot be waived during emergencies and disasters. Although every emergency or disaster situation will be different and pose its own set of unique challenges, effective planning can help avoid Title VI violations. The guidance highlights that preparation for exigent circumstances, including addressing meaningful access to services and benefits by limited English proficient communities can often make all the difference in preserving the lives of first-responders and the people they help.

 

Two new resources to assist recipients of federal financial assistance also accompany the guidance: the Department of Justice’s Tips and Tools for Reaching Limited English Proficient Communities in Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery (go.usa.gov/xkGBs) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Checklist for Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance (go.usa.gov/xkGBJ), which facilitates the integration of the whole community into emergency-related activities. The press release announcing the guidance and accompanying materials can be found here (go.usa.gov/xkGKj).

Summer 2016 newsletter

Department of Transportation and Alabama State University Host Symposium Remembering Montgomery Bus Boycott:

 

On June 14, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and Alabama State University (ASU) hosted a symposium reflecting on the legacy of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Secretary Anthony R. Foxx delivered remarks on how transportation can connect people to opportunity. During his remarks, Secretary Foxx explained how transportation and infrastructure decisions from the 1950s and 1960s displaced poor and minority communities from economic mobility.

 

“Transportation makes or breaks lives,” stated Secretary Foxx. It is imperative that, when planning new transportation projects, the communities affected by these changes are taken into consideration and not marginalized. Secretary Foxx encouraged attendees to take an active interest in the early stages of development of transportation projects in their communities. The Department of Transportation affirms that “transportation infrastructure should be built by, for, and with the communities served by them.”

 

The symposium also included a conversation with Fred Gray, the attorney who defended Rosa Parks, ASU President Gwendolyn Boyd, as well as a panel discussion with Stephanie Jones, DOT Chief Opportunities Officer, Leslie Proll, DOT’s Civil Rights Director, Guillermo Mayer, President of Public Advocates who works on transportation equity issues, and Yvette Rivera, Associate Director of DOT’s Civil Rights Office.

 

For more information and to view pictures from the Symposium, visit the ASU-photos webpage.

Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation Host Diversity and Opportunity Listening Session for Leaders:

 

On June 8, ED, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and DOT hosted an interagency listening session for education, housing, and transportation leaders at ED’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. to help state and local leaders increase diversity in their schools and communities, and to narrow opportunity gaps. The afternoon session brought together educators, researchers and community leaders with policy experts and leaders from the three agencies to discuss voluntary, community-led strategies to promote increased diversity in schools and neighborhoods. The event included panels on the benefits of diversity, opportunities at the federal level, a case study on diversity work in action, and community planning. Attendees also heard from individuals on the front lines who are doing this work, as well as from senior officials at the three agencies who discussed opportunities to further locally-driven efforts to support diversity.

Spring 2016 Newsletter updates

 

The Federal Highway Administration and Texas Department of Transportation Agree to Mitigate the Discriminatory Effects of Rebuilding the Harbor Bridge in Corpus Christi:

On December 17, the Federal Highway Administration, in consultation with the Department of Justice, reached a voluntary resolution agreement (http://go.usa.gov/cuYDJ) with the Texas Department of Transportation settling an administrative complaint alleging violation of Title VI. The complaint, filed by Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and the UT School of Law Environmental Clinic, alleged that the site selection for the Harbor Bridge Project would isolate the predominantly African-American Hillcrest and Washington-Coles communities from Corpus Christi hospitals, schools, grocery stores, and most businesses, and would increase the communities’ exposure to air and soil pollutants. The site selected for the Harbor Bridge cuts through an historic African-American neighborhood that has endured decades of neglect and the encroachment of heavy industrial sites, Interstate 37, the Port of Corpus Christi, and a wastewater treatment plant, all impacting the environment and health of their community. The resolution agreement includes mitigation of the impacts of the bridge construction such as a relocation program for homeowners and renters; access to a relocation counselor; coverage of moving costs; financial assistance for neighborhood churches, small businesses, and owners of rental properties; and mitigation of construction impacts, among other options. Texas DOT also entered into agreements with local government agencies to facilitate its compliance with the settlement agreement. This result illustrates the impact of working collaboratively with federal agencies, legal services, advocates, and communities.

 

Winter 2015 newsletter updates

Summer 2015 newsletter updates

Department of Transportation (DOT) Unveils Language Assistance Volunteer Program:

Drawing from a Department of Education in 2012 program, the DOT Language Assistance Volunteer Program aims to expand how the Department provides meaningful language access for LEP persons in all its conducted programs, as required under Executive Order 13166.  The voluntary program will assess and employ Department staff in providing language assistance services.  Department linguists will also support the mission of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by providing technical assistance to recipients on language assistance matters.  This program not only aims to use existing staff to ensure language access at DOT, but also to provide employees with an opportunity to utilize their language skills for mission-critical work.

Spring 2015 Newsletter updates

Summary Judgment Denied in FACE v. Hawai’i Dep’t of Transportation (HDOT): In this matter, plaintiffs allege that HDOT intentionally discriminates based on national origin, violating Title VI and the Equal Protection clause, because of HDOT’s failure to provide language services for the Hawai’i driver’s license exam. The DOJ Civil Rights Division filed a Statement of Interest arguing that HDOT, (1) as a recipient of federal financial assistance, was on notice of its obligation to provide language services; (2) that such services must be provided on a timely basis; (3) that a failure to provide timely language access services can constitute evidence of  intentional discrimination in violation of Title VI and that HDOT’s proffered facts are appropriately viewed as evidence of intent; and (4) that a Federal Transit Administration 2010 compliance review used by HDOT as evidence of compliance with Title VI did not address driver’s license administration. On February 23, the United States District Court for the District of Hawai’i issued an order denying the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment, adopting the legal standard supported by the United States regarding intentional discrimination in Title VI cases.

Fall 2014 Newsletter updates

Summer 2014 Newsletter updates

Federal Highway Administration Finding Results in Expanded Transit Access in Ohio: 

Less than one year after issuing a Title VI Violation Letter of Findings against the City of Beavercreek, Ohio, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reached a successful resolution expanding critical transit access to Black and Latino transit riders.  The City, which had refused to approve the Regional Transit Authority’s plans for construction of three bus stops, reversed course and completed construction of the new stops earlier this year.  These stops will provide predominantly minority residents of Dayton safe access to critical locations in Beavercreek, including a major medical center and potential job sites.  The June 2013 letter of findings determined, among other things, that the City’s justifications for refusing to allow the bus stops, including claims related to risk of criminal activity, were unsupported by evidence.  Accordingly, FHWA required the City to take corrective actions monitored by the Ohio Department of Transportation.  Read the findings here

Federal Transit Administration Finds Florida Cities Non-Compliant with Title VI Requirements when Relocating a Trolley Maintenance Facility: 

On October 28, 2013, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a letter finding the cities of Coral Gables and Miami, Florida non-compliant with FTA’s Title VI requirements when the cities failed to assess the potential adverse disparate impacts stemming from relocation of a trolley maintenance facility from Coral Gables to the historically Black neighborhood of Coconut Grove.  The FTA further found that Miami-Dade Transit failed in its responsibility to ensure sub-recipients comply with Title VI, and advised Miami-Dade Transit that it must coordinate with Coral Gables and Miami to conduct the requisite disparate impact analysis, or risk the loss of federal funds or referral to the Justice Department for litigation.  Access the complete findings here.  The recipients submitted a corrective action agreement promising to complete the requisite study.  FTA continues to work with the cities of Miami and Coral Gables to address identified deficiencies in their Title VI programs.

Spring 2014 Newsletter updates